April 28, 2010

The journey or the destination?

I was watching this interview of Harsha Bhogle's at IIM-A. Before going further, I must admit that I haven't yet watched it fully. I only saw the first few minutes, the part where he brings up the question of what is more important to everyone... the journey or the destination? And it set me thinking...

How do we view this almost chicken-n-egg-like question? Most people immediately tend to blurt out that it is the destination that indeed holds more of a value than the journey. The journey passes but the destination endures, and so on. But I also think that past a stage in life, we start looking at this question a little differently. We can draw many examples from everyday life to illustrate that in some cases journey trumps destination and vice versa. Here's a classic one -

For the scrimping grad student in US who's going to India on vacation - destination trumps journey. He could have 3 stopovers, save $500, reach India 35+ hours later and still be ultimately happy. Good deal!

For the high-flying executive who has money to spare - journey trumps destination. He can travel to India (or elsewhere) as he likes... he chooses the least stopover-most comfortable route, and probably in business/executive class. $3000? No problem.

Ultimately it's down to perspective, I guess. And somewhere down the line when you arrive at the conclusive math that comfort matters, the journey becomes as important as the destination. While this may seem like some weird adage applicable only to the literal journeys, spare a thought for just a moment in some other scenario.

Take completing your Masters Thesis. The actual destination is the degree itself - the conferring of the title of the "Master of Science" on you... obliterating all the crap that you may have had to endure in your journey to get there. Maybe the sleepless nights... the torturous mathematics, the relentless experiments.. all key components leading up to your defense. But no.. in the real world scenario, that is strictly just the turbulence of the airplane, which you would endure, was it in Economy class or in First class. But those friends... those night-outs together, those chai times, the midnight birthday celebrations, your entire experience out there in a new country with your new-formed associations... that's what you remember as your journey... not the other parts. And that's the part that compares to the free alcohol and legroom of the real world First-class travel analogy to the cramped seating and boring food of the Economy class. Touché.


Gandalf said...

Whoa.. what an insightful post. Loved your analogy. As for me personally, I guess the destination is a weee bit better than the journey. Like take your Masters degree thing for example.. It's all good that you and me had a great bunch of friends and all that. But for someone who didn't he/she might be able to shrug it off with the notion - Whatever, I finally made it and have my degree. At that point, they are willing to let go of the past few crappy days in lieu of the fact that the they got the damned degree.

But I see your point. At sometime the transition will occur from sheerly enjoying the destination to looking forward to a pleasant journey as well (if not literally, figuratively for sure).

Great post. Nice work ms J.

Anonymous said...

There is one more perspective to this. Did the journey lead to a pleasant destination? Would somebody think that the journey was good if the destination was unpleasant? Would one feel just as happy to remember the chai times and midnight birthdays if they failed to get the degree and everybody else did - would the journey or the destination be preferable? Probably neither.

Jaya said...

Gandalf-> Thanks for the kind words of appreciation. True if the journey sucks, you might as well put it behind you and move on. Thanks for the comment and keep visiting!

Anon-> Actually I disagree. That's not applicable to the "analogy" per se as is. It's like taking a flight to Rome and landing elsewhere. And if where you landed is perhaps Malta, enjoy the current destination and if it's some other place you desire less, it's time to move on. though one doesn't reach all the goals they aim for, it doesn't take anything away from those years that they spent trying. So in these cases, though the destination may have evolved into something else, it doesn't make the journey any less sweeter. Or maybe that's the ay too positive side of things. And I hope everyone sees that sometime.

Thank you for the comment as well and keep visiting!

Anonymous said...

Well said Jaya.. especially the reply part.

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